The only pediatrician in Uvalde on the day of the mass shooting that left 19 students and two faculty members from Robb Elementary School dead recently opened up about the harrowing, tragic scenes he witnessed.
Dr Roy Guerrero, an Uvalde native, attended Robb Elementary School as a child, according to NBC5. He was at lunch on 24 May when he began receiving desperate text messages calling for his help from him.
“I called the hospital, Uvalde Memorial, to ask if they needed me and they said, ‘Yes, get over here right now,’” Dr Guerrero said.
He sped to the hospital and entered a chaotic scene unlike any other he’d witnessed in his professional career.
“It was a complete madhouse — what you see in disaster movies,” he said. “Doctors and nurses in every single room; people running around like maniacs; kids in the hallway bleeding and screaming; surgeons working on kids.
He recalled seeing the parents of some of the children who were being treated — people who he knew — pleading with him to check on their children.
He said it was the “most horrible part” of the frenzied scene.
“You never really get that out of your head,” he said.
Dr Gurerro treated eight children throughout the day, half of which were his regular patients. Of the 19 students who died in the shooting, five of them were his patients.
As the doctor continued giving treatment, one of his patients, an 11-year-old girl, called out to him. She had been in the classroom attacked by the gunman and was receiving treatment for bullet fragments in her shoulder from her.
The little girl recounted her experience of the shooting to her mother and the doctor.
“She said she saw people being shot and falling dead. Her de ella best friend de ella was next to her, so she grabbed some of her blood de ella that was coming out of her, smeared it on herself and played dead on the floor, ”he said. “As she’s doing this, her teacher de ella… who got shot and was throwing up blood, told her, ‘I don’t want to die, call 911’ and threw the phone at her. I guess the guy saw the phone and shot the phone, but he didn’t see her move from her. So she continued to play dead.”
He said he saw the little girl the next day to follow up with her treatment, and said she was shaking from her experiences.
“She already has PTSD, and we just got out of this,” he said.
Dr Gurerro said the few survivors of the shooting were all terrified that the gunman — who was killed by Border Patrol agents — would come for them.
“In clinic the next day, all I heard was, ‘I’m afraid he’s coming for me. I’m afraid he’s going to come get me at my house.’ The kids were telling me that. I was hearing that the whole day,” he said. “I’m telling you this is going to be a mental health crisis for our community.”
He said his “biggest fear” was that the survivors would live in fear for the rest of their lives.
“I don’t want them having that doubt in their mind, all the time, that the world is the same or worse, and that there’s nothing here to protect their children,” he said.
The doctor said that his presence — a familiar face in a terrifying situation — helped to calm some of the children who were understandably panicked following the attack.
“The children were in hysterics at first,” he said. “But when they saw a familiar face — because I’ve known them for so long — I was able to calm them down. I told them I would be here until it was over and that I was going to call their mom.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.